Barry and Cathy Beck have hosted some of the best fly fishing and photo adventures you’ll find. They have travelled and fished all over the world and produced stunning images of it all.
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Introduction to the Outdoors
Barry- My parents had a tackle shop. From the very beginning, it was spending time in the shop with my parents, and also, our vacations were always fishing-oriented. It’s just been part of my life. I can’t remember not fishing.
Cathy- I grew up in the country on a farm, in a big family. I have seven brothers and sisters. And so we grew up in the country and fishing the farm ponds and you know, lots of woods around and farm fields, and it’s just, you know, this was the lifestyle.
Things we talked about
Other Outdoor Activities
Working on old Land Rovers
Don’t quit your day job.
And Kathy always frowns when I say that. We do hear that question a lot, especially at our industry show. We’ve got a young photographer who comes in and says, you know, how do you do this? How do you make a living at this? And, or a guide who wants to move into the industry and, it’s certainly not an industry that you’re going to get rich at, but you will get rich in other ways. It’s a lifestyle, and it’s what it’s all about. And I don’t care if you’re a young guy working for Sage or you’re a young guy hoping to move up into, in something larger. It’s still a lifestyle. If you accept that and know you’re not going to make a lot of money, but you’re going to have other rewards that you can’t put a monetary value on, absolutely. You should do it, follow your dreams.
Favorite Books and Podcasts
anything by John Gierach
anything by Lefty Kreh
Favorite Outdoor Gear under $100
Connect with Barry and Cathy
Barry And Cathy Beck – Fly Fishing, Adventure And Photography
Welcome to episode 205 of the show with Barry and Cathy Beck brought to you by Fiverr. When I’m looking for a new logo, graphic design help or a social media scheduler, I go straight to Fiverr. They have a variety of options and services available and never disappoint. Go to TheOutdoorBizPodcast.com/fiverr and get inspired to do more with some of the best work delivered by the Fiverr pros. Get it now.
I believe achieving success in the outdoor business is dependent upon embracing the outdoor lifestyle and learning from outdoor leaders that came before you. If you agree, then read the tips, advice, and hacks about growing or starting your career in the outdoor business. Barry and Cathy Beck have hosted some of the best Fly Fishing photos and adventures you will find. They have traveled and fished all over the world and produced stunning images of it all. Please join me in welcoming Barry and Cathy Beck. Welcome to the show.
Thank you. It’s good to be here.
It’s good to be chatting with you. Let’s start off with how you’ve got introduced to the outdoors. Barry, do you want to tell us how that happened?
I grew up in it. My parents had a tackle shop. From the beginning, I was spending time in the shop with my parents. Also, our vacations were always fishing-oriented. Fishing has been part of my life. I can’t remember not fishing.
Cathy, how about you?
I grew up in the Country of a big farm family. I have seven brothers and sisters. We grew up in the Country, fishing the farm ponds, lots of woods around and farm fields. That’s where I started.
How about when you’ve got into photography? When did you pick up your first camera, Barry?
I can’t remember when I didn’t have a camera as well because my parents weren’t photographers but it was part of our fishing trips. The camera always comes out. I sold my first magazine cover when I was sixteen years old. I thought, “This is a great way to make money.” What I didn’t realize was that it would take five more years before I sold another picture. I was lucky. I took a picture of a magazine Art Director and he liked it. He put it on the cover of the magazine. I thought, “That’s a great way to get started.” I also have a lot of notes from magazine editors. For instance, I’ve got an editor from Field Spring that said, “Barry, this is not made this way,” because most of my pictures were cockeyed. I’ve got the idea eventually.
What did you start shooting with back then? Were you a Nikon or a Minolta guy? What did you have?
At that time, I had an old Nikkormat, and then it was handed down. Eventually, I saved enough money to buy a Nikon AF. I have been a Nikon fan almost all my life. I still use Nikon. It’s a great brand. I’m pretty loyal to the brand because they have been good to me. They hold up. I’m happy with the imagery I get out of them.
How has the digital workflow changed over the years? Are you all digital now? You must be, I’m sure.
We’ve got lucky. We were at Bob Marriott’s years ago. I was standing with Lefty Kreh and Cathy was doing a casting demo. This Japanese guy walked up and said, “You guys are dinosaurs.” Lefty looked at him and said, “Were dinosaurs? I don’t think we are that old yet.” He said, “You are shooting film, right?” We said, “Sure, we are.” He said, “You should be shooting digital.” We said, “Why? At 1 megapixel, what are we going to do with that?” He laughed. He comes back and brings this tube. To make a long story short, he pulled out 8 or 10 16×20 outstanding prints. Lefty said, “Are these films?” The guy said, “No, they are digital. My name is Ron Taniwaki. I work with Nikon.”
As an angler, you never get the fish enough, to be honest.
Ron is a great guy. I have met him. I have done workshops with him. He is a good guy.
Anyhow, Lefty left. He has no interest in digital at all. The guy captured my attention and I was fascinated with what he was telling me. A month later, I’ve got a digital camera from Ron to use and the rest is history. We were shooting digital from pretty much after that day one. It certainly has changed our workflow. It allows us to shoot a lot more images. On the other hand, post-production work takes a lot of time. For instance, I’ve got a little over 2,000 images from a trip we’ve got back from Argentina. I would never have 2,000 slides to look at if I were shooting with film. You can usually fix it by being careful to press the delete button. It changed the way we live.
Are you using all the Adobe products? Lightroom must be your major resource.
No. You would laugh because I do not. I don’t have Photoshop. Keep in mind. We are editorial photographers. Any work we do, we do it with a software program called DxO. It’s pretty close to Lightroom. It has got a nice workflow. I still do some work in Nikon Capture but if you give an Art Director something that he is happy with and a big enough file, if he needs to change a little bit, he can’t. If I were a fine art photographer and Cathy as well, we would certainly be more involved with the Photoshop aspect of it. It’s pretty much straightforward. This is what we shot. We don’t do a lot of adjustments.
I’m the same. I don’t do much in Photoshop. Lightroom is more for the cataloging and it’s pretty quick but DxO is similar. Tell our readers about Frontiers International. I was poking around the website. You get to go to some great places, beautiful fish and locations. You’ve got a nice life of adventure, photography and fishing.
It has been an interesting many years with Frontiers. We started with our first Frontiers trip back in the early ‘80s and we have been working with them ever since. It’s interesting that they are the world’s largest hunting and sports travel, land bird hunting, fishing and Elegant Journeys. They are the largest hunting and fishing travel agency in the world. It has certainly gotten us to lots of places that we would have never gotten to.
How many trips do you do with them versus independent on your own?
We don’t do anything on our own anymore. Everything we do is through Frontiers. We do about 12 to 14 departures a year.
You are gone every month. That’s amazing.
Every month, yes.
It’s a lot of frequent-flyer miles.
We are 2.5 million with Delta alone. We are big Delta fans. We’ve got lucky and it goes back to Lefty Kreh. We were hosting trips out of our own fly shop. Lefty was leading Frontiers to go off and do some work with his friend, Johnny Morris. He called us on the phone and said, “You guys would be great for Frontiers. You are a couple. You have the female aspect side of it.” We called them. We went down and met the family. To this day, it’s still a family-oriented business, which is super people. It was a relationship that was probably one of the best things that happened to us in our lives. It worked and clicked. To this day, we are blessed to be affiliated with Frontiers.
Did you do any photo instruction as well as photo workshops as long as the guiding?
I have done a few and I enjoy them but most of our hosted trips are Fly Fishing. Although every other year, we do an Africa photo Safari. Most of it is in East Africa for migration. That is totally photography. We have had people show up with a new camera in a box and haven’t even taken it out to put the batteries in or charge it up yet.
Having somebody with all the right gear, it’s fun to see the enthusiasm and you are doing a lot of teaching. Even on the fishing trip, we occasionally got a serious photographer who enjoys it. We leave the fishing aside for a little bit and work on wildlife photography or whatever they want. It’s my passion as well as fishing. I’m always happy when somebody has some questions.
In all the places you have been, do you have any, in particular, that stand out as favorites or a favorite?
That has changed over the years. There were years when we would have both said Los Roques, Venezuela. We loved that place. We can’t go to Los Roques anymore or Boca Paila for many years. Boca Paila was a little fly-fishing lodge down on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. We loved that place too but that eventually sold. Since then, we have honed in on trout fishing.
We do about four trips a year to Argentina at various destinations within Argentina. Most of it is trout fishing. We are starting to do some Dorado fishing in Northern Argentina. We love that country. It’s warm, friendly and easy. It’s a two-hour time difference so we are not adjusting to a big-time change. For myself and I can speak for Barry too, we would both say Argentina.
What’s your perspective on the state of fly fishing? It seems like everybody is busy here in the US. Is that the same around the world where the destination is all busy and full?
It’s caught on. When we first went to Argentina, there were a few Argentine guides. There were a lot of Americans working down there. That has all changed. You see a lot more local people fly fishing in Argentina, not Americans or Europeans going down. Truthfully, fly fishing is healthy. The industry is healthy. I don’t think we are growing in leaps and bounds but the interest is out there. We see it everywhere we go.
We spent some time in Slovenia. I was amazed at how much fly fishing, only catch-and-release fishing, there is in a little country that I didn’t expect to see that in. I know that because we work with Far Bank, which that’s RIO, Redington and Sage, that our business offshore has been very good. I know that RIO has been growing in leaps and bounds worldwide. If that wasn’t healthy out there, we wouldn’t see that.
Marc Bale was on the show. He was talking about how busy they are in all aspects of all the brands that they do. That’s good to see.
Bale would know more than anybody. He is probably a name that most anglers would not recognize but he had a huge influence in the fly fishing business for a lot of years. He is a unique individual. We are happy to have him as a good friend.
He is a great guy. I’m glad to know him, too. He has been at Far Bank forever. We were talking about that on the show. It was like, “How many years have you been there?” “It’s eighteen or more.”
That’s Far Bank and it goes far beyond that. We are a small fly shop and doing shows. Bale is in the Sage Booth with then-Owner Bruce Kirschner. Those guys would set the booth up, back in it, and put the rods on the racks. They had very little help but look at where that company has gone now. It’s amazing.
We were talking about your 2020 calendar. You have trips every month. Anything, in particular, you are looking forward to?
It’s always fun to go back to the places that you have or are familiar and you have a history with. Taking clients or guests that are new, we know what to expect and so we know what to do and make sure that they have a good trip. We are going to new places. We did the Dorado Cruiser in Northern Argentina for Dorado. It’s nice to have something new and fresh. It was pretty exciting to see our guest catching Dorado. That’s an exciting fish to catch on a fly rod or spinning rod if you choose. We like to mix it up to keep it fresh.
Cathy, do you have any spots you are looking forward to? Is it Argentina again?
I’m looking forward to all of it, especially we are going back to Turneffe Flats in Belize. We haven’t been down with Craig and Karen for many years. They were with us on the African Safari. We are looking forward to getting back to Turneffe and spending some time there. We have regularly gone to Spain and Ireland. They are still new to us. We have been doing that trip for several years but as long as nothing happens with Coronavirus, we will be looking forward to getting back there in the Fall.
My family is from Spain. I saw that on your website. I thought, “I had no idea. I’ve got to get back there and get on that trip.” That sounds fun.
That’s a great trip. The Pyrenees are beautiful in the Fall.
When you are on these trips, do you get to fish much? You are guiding, instructing, and all that. Is it five minutes or none?
As an angler, you never get to fish enough. When I am teaching a Photography class, I tell people that, “You have to make a choice, either you can fish or shoot.” It’s one or the other. You don’t get a jumping tarpon, jumping trout, and these shots if you’ve got a fly around your hand. You do have to make a choice.
In our case, many times, we love to be shooting. If we have a guest that needs help, Cathy does a lot of casting instruction. If we have a guy that gets sick and we don’t have a replacement guide, there have been times when I have had to spend a day guiding and that’s fine. We do whatever it takes but none of us ever get the fish on.
I’ve got a brand-new Nikon D70 one time when I was up at my place in Mammoth. I went up to this little stream and fishing. Everybody only does this once. I had the camera around my neck, fishing. I hooked the fish and one step closer to land the fish. It slipped, fell in, filled my waders and dunked the camera. After that, you realize, “That’s not going to work. I’m either fishing or taking pictures. I’m not doing both.” As we get close to wrapping up here, do you have any suggestions or advice for people who want to get into the fly fishing business or guiding?
Follow your passion.
My first advice is don’t quit your day job. Cathy always frowns when I say that. We do hear that question a lot, especially at our industry show. We will get a young photographer who comes in and says, “How do you do this? How do you make a living at this?” or a guide who wants to move on into the industry. It’s not an industry that you are going to get rich at but you will get rich in other ways.
It’s a lifestyle. It’s what it’s all about. I don’t care if you are a young guy working for Sage or hoping to move up into something larger. If you accept that and you know you are not going to make a lot of money but you are going to have other rewards that you can’t put a monetary value on, you should do it. Follow your dream.
That’s good advice, “Follow your dream and passion.” A lot of people have said that. I wholeheartedly agree. Do you have any daily routines you guys use to keep your sanity? Do you meditate? You get a lot of exercise on the streams guiding all day. Cathy, do you have anything? Walk the dog? You probably can’t have a dog. You are gone too much.
We do walkout. We try to get our exercise and walking when we are here at home and in the office. We manage a fishing club. Once Spring gets here, we are outside a lot with the club. Barry still does a little bit of guiding. We do a lot of lessons and we are involved in the guiding program that we have. We are outside more. Barry loves old Land Rovers. We’ve got two of them. He would argue this but one of them is broken down all the time. He spent a lot of time catching around with his Land Rovers. I’m very active in our church. I do that to get my mind off the business. He uses the cars.
How about your favorite books or podcasts? Do you have books that you give as gifts to guests, friends or family?
We’ve got a lot. We have been collecting books for fly fishing for many years. We’ve got quite a life. What we have liked doing over the last couple of decades are African books. When we find ourselves in a bookstore, we migrate to the African section more than anything else. Barry’s favorite author, fly-fishing-wise, is John Gierach. Everybody loves John.
As far as podcasts go, there are two guys that I love to listen to. That’s Tim Flagler when he does fly-tying videos and Tom Rosenbauer from Orvis. They are both so engaging and interesting to listen to. They’ve got important stuff to say. Both of them want to help their listeners become better at fly-tying, fishing or whatever the subject is.
I have heard Tom’s show. I have to look for Tim. I haven’t heard anything from him but I will look him up and start listening.
He is an interesting guy.
Do you give books as gifts? Do you give for holidays and stuff?
We do, absolutely. As Cathy said, anything by Gierach, it’s fun reading. The guy has got a fantastic sense of humor. He has been there, done that. If you ever meet him, what you see is what you get. That’s what I like about it. He lacks something called ego and I appreciate that. I always tell that about Lefty Kreh. If we have an opportunity and we have a new friend coming up into the sport, in Cathy’s case, she will give them one of her books on instruction. If it’s just somebody who enjoys reading, Lefty is more on the instruction but definitely, Gierach is the best.
How about a favorite piece of outdoor gear under $100? Something that you might have with you on the river every day?
That’s a good one. I didn’t even think of that.
I’m not even going to put a number. We’ve got a room full of flies and we still buy flies. We still think we need more.
You never have the right one. It’s always this one, “Now, I’ve got to switch it up.”
On my side, I’m squeaking because the price of fly lines is growing. It surprises me. If I had $100, I would buy an RIO OutBound Short. It has changed the way I cast. It has helped our guests, students, and people that we travel with to get that extra 5 or 10 feet of line. It’s one of the best lines I have ever had to reach fish that I normally can’t reach. It’s not because RIO makes it or because I represent RIO. It has just been a revelation to me.
I grew up fishing a lot on the Delaware River back in East here and those darn fish would always be 5 feet more than I could cast. The OutBound was like a mini-shooting head. It allows that extra 5 or 10 feet to let me achieve that. I can now reach some fish that sometimes I couldn’t in the past. I have watched people cast it and it sails. If you get it aerialized with any kind of power at all, off it goes. It opens up my eyes to anglers that have struggled. To get that extra 5 or 10 feet, it does it. I’m going to squeak that in.
As we finish up, is there anything that you would like to say or ask our readers?
For me, I like to say thank you for fishing, taking fishing trips, buying magazines, reading our stories, buying flies, getting out there fly fishing, and enjoying the sport that we love.
For my side, my PowerPoints always end up on the same note that this is about having fun. We need to remember that’s what it’s about. It’s not necessarily about the numbers or the size of the fish. To me, it’s the experience of being out there. Certainly, we all have the responsibility to pass this on. I still haven’t found the secret remedy, code or formula of what it takes to get more kids involved but we need to work harder to do that because we don’t see the youth involvement that we used to see. I grew up with parents that fish, so I was fishing. Nowadays, parents and kids are busy. Unfortunately, some of the games that they play on PlayStation occupy that time when they could be outside. If you are a parent and you are involved in fly fishing, get your kids fishing.
It’s one of the good things about living here in Bishop. We do see during the fishing season a lot of families out there, dads with their kids and stuff, which is cool to see. More kids need to get out there. Where can people find you if they want to follow up? Go to your website to see all the stuff you are up to?
Don’t quit your day job. Fly fishing is not an industry that you’re going to get rich in an instant, but you will get rich in other ways.
The website is good, BarryAndCathyBeck.com. You can follow us on Instagram, @BCBeckPhoto. We have a weekly Blog that we do every day. You can find that on the website. We are easy to find and we would love to hear from your readers.
It has been great talking to you. I hope to see you at another fly show soon. If I don’t see you before, have a great time. I know you will.
Thank you so much for having us.
Have a good day.
You take care.
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- Barry and Cathy Beck
- Bob Marriott’s Fly Shop
- Lefty Kreh
- Ron Taniwaki
- Frontiers International
- Farbank Industries
- Tibor Reels
- John Gierach – Amazon
- Tim Flagler Tightline Productions
- Fly Fishing Guide Podcast Tom Rosenbauer Orvis
- Lefty Kreh – Amazon
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- Marc Bale – Previous episode
- Elegant Journeys